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The revealing Interview Thomais de Fois gave to Chris Iliopoulos for "Your E-Articles"

Έγινε ενημέρωση: 8 Μαΐ 2023

Interview with Thomais de Fois: Freedom, Creation, Respect.

She was born in Athens but her origins are shared between France and Britain. From an early age she was involved in sports, painting, construction and music. In her teens, dance and photography took over while she began to dive even deeper into the ocean of music. She is an accomplished alternative-progressive rock persona who has made her own mark through her recordings. On the occasion of her appearance together with Stavros Karidas (guitar-harmonica-vocals) and Wil Bow (drums), on Friday, February 4th live at the Rockwood Athens stage for a powerful power acoustic alternative rock performance, with covers and songs from her discography, I host in “your e-articles” the singer-songwriter Thomais De Fois.

-You were born in Athens. How do you remember your childhood?

The truth is that I don't look back on such memories. I don't "travel" with old photos. I had a rough childhood. I experienced rejection from my biological mother at pre-school age and the imbalance in the wider environment. The complete absence of a mother, in the form of choice-rejection, causes serious difficulties in a child's psyche and personality development. There had to be the process of reviewing data and rebuilding my inner world on a healthier basis. Some things had to be left in the past. And they did.

-The most powerful memory that has been recorded within you?

Four years ago, the loss of my good friend, Jim, who "passed away" due to a medical mistake. I was traumatized for 4 years by this event, which was followed by the loss of my grandfather, whom I was helping regarding his health, and when I broke down from the loss of my friend we lost him. Then the man we had been together for a long time developed a nervous system condition, which causes gradual paralysis, until the patient ends up... This period cannot be forgotten...

-Your origins are divided, from France and Britain. How did these two cultures work in shaping you?

I grew up in Athens, so I was shaped by this environment in the first years of my life. When my grandfather told me our history, I became very interested in those cultures. I studied about it, and continue to do so. I became very familiar with the English language, to the point that I taught it alongside music from a young age. This led to natural interaction with relatives and people from Britain, America and Western-Northern Europe, which I particularly enjoy. This is probably responsible for the attraction I’ve been feeling to those regions and their culture, since ancient times. I certainly appreciate the ancient Greek source of knowledge, arts, beauty, philosophy... I find it difficult in Greece, perhaps due to the fact that I find Greek society immature, for the most part. The existing education system contributes a lot to this. I chose England for some of my studies. Higher level of research, more stable characters, and professionals, clearer and more efficient systems. I’ve liveded in the Netherlands and would not have been in Greece if current circumstances had not forced me.... I would have been enjoying the cold climate in Europe. To mention the expected, the music I write is appreciated abroad. In Greece it is hardly appreciated. So I was planning to go to Scotland but Brexit has ruined it for us... We’ll see. So I guess because of the origin I was a bit more open-minded about moving abroad.

-What does music mean to you?

I am music... I can't perceive music as something separate from me... My family saw when I was very young that I 'had an ear', as they said, and they decided that I should be a musician, instead of something else. With degrees in music and English as my only qualifications, I took up my life at the age of 19. I am involved and also express myself with other kinds of art. But with music, I give what is deepest in me. The lyrics help with that too. But what I express with words to one or two very close people is probably not enough to convey the weight of the feelings. The music invests the words with all the charge of the experience. Whether it is pleasant or tragic. I write experientially... I don't speak very easily, but I say quite a lot with music.

-The importance of music in your daily life?

I remember me as a little kid isolating myself for hours, being in my "bubble", as I usually say, so that I could step out of every day’s reality and create a world of my own, in which I could always express my feelings freely, without inhibitions and without being influenced by human criticism. I felt safe with music... With the sounds that surrounded me. It's the same to this day. Because of my dyslexia, socialization has always been difficult for me. I feel bombarded when people talk to me a lot, or loudly, or quickly. I get booed, how to express it..? Music gives rhythm to communication, so I adapt to such environments, without feeling too much stress or panic. I heard opinions urging me to give up twenty years of trying.... I am in no position to give up music and I won't. I recently started writing the album again, which had been frozen for two years due to the crisis and my bad psychological state. All my adult life, I have invested most of my income in musical equipment, training and education, recording studios and my own mini studio, so that I could be independent. And I wasn't born with high income or successful businesses... Being an artist was never easy. We don't have holidays, birthdays, celebrations, nor are we allowed to show personal problems, nor is there any free time left... Considering that in the evenings, if you're not working, you have to move around the venues you work with to book gigs, spend long hours in the studio to create your material. Hours of rehearsal, a lot of gear carrying. We experience proper collaborations, but also too many who deny us insurance or want to cut our payments… because they can. Yes, the crisis is hitting us too. We've got chores too! Professions related to the restaurant and entertainment industry are being hit the hardest. But I was doing pretty well even though I’ve been trying hard all the time, without help. I worked hard and my work was appreciated. I was well because I was working in my own capacity! So you understand, Christo, that it is unthinkable for me to give up what I was doing to get to the point where some people listen to my work... I would rather starve to death. Music is an integral part of my everyday life.

-What was the stimulus for you to turn to music?

There happened to be an electric piano in the house when I was little, which we became stickers with. The development was rather inevitable.

-Your musical studies?

I started with classical piano, then continued with Advanced Classical Music Theory, Classical and Contemporary Singing, Orchestration-Instrumentation, and Counterpoint.

-What did you get out of studying Music Therapy and Psychology?

That’s a long chapter... A troubled child, with dyslexia, stress, history of teenage depression, and low self-esteem. I didn't talk at all, didn't feel good about being crowded, and too much talking. I spent years having panic attacks, there were periods when I couldn't get out on my own... To deal with these, I’d been analysing human psychology for many years. Especially after a road accident I had with a severe head-neck injury, which exacerbated the symptoms of dyslexia. I noticed that I could not cope in environments where there was no musical element. Although, for example, I cannot be around a lot of people, or in an environment with tensions, when the activity involves music, I tune in, decompress and eventually cope. This is where Music Therapy comes in. For your information, it first appeared in America when physicians hired musicians to assist in the psychological and physical rehabilitation of WWII Veterans who could not be treated by traditional methods. Music is the only element on the planet that activates both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously. Through this process, it was proven that the sufferer gained control of his body, being drawn into the rhythm with which we unconsciously synchronise. Music has a calming effect, stress levels are effectively reduced, which helps in dealing with post-traumatic stress, stress in general and panic, as well as depression.

Music can bring back memories that have been stored in our minds from where we cannot retrieve them, which means that it works therapeutically in cases of amnesia caused by an accident or dementia in old age, etc. So in studying Music Therapy, it was like confirming my own relevant experiences. This school explained to me, essentially, why I can be a more normal person (so to speak) by being involved in music, while without it my life is difficult. I was also taught wonderful new ways of dealing with the problems I face in the present. This is how I recovered after 4 years of suffering... Imagine that due to the stress of the stressful situations in my teenage years, the exams I was taking at the time for my Music-English degrees were a traumatic experience. I struggled to find peace to study. After that, I didn't even want to hear about a driver's license exam. Eventually, however, both of these subjects (Music Therapy, Psychology) worked therapeutically again, and combined with the English teaching system, I succeeded. Then I combined the studies in nutrition, as our psychology depends on our food and vice versa. I find solutions for various problems in our everyday life, and I am happy to help. I also learned the usefulness of talking about our problems, becoming familiar with them, not being ashamed of experiencing them, accepting help when we need it, getting rid of the burden by sharing them with our own people, and I will add my own conclusion, which is to love our imperfections. Because of them each of us is a completely special-unique being, and they are what make us humans! The age of prozac (I take pills and all is well) is over, and the age of robots (I feel nothing) is near but not here yet.

-The sounds that influenced you?

Definitely classical music, which I studied for so many years, and then, when I was a kid I discovered the use of the pickup. I had some very high quality vinyl records, a legacy of family friends, and when I first heard the “Poor Man's Moody Blues” by Barclay James Harvest I was blown away by the sound. I couldn't believe my ears, and realized that this is what I am! And I am to this day, thanks to them!

-Artists who have been reference points in your journey?

Mostly my fellow musicians. From my first band, at the age of 16, with whom we started giving rock concerts, and recording, to today, when - apart from the almost 3 years of exclusion - we are still performing and recording.

-You've dabbled in photography and dance. Are they two different worlds?

Not very much... Dance is also images. Photography is also movement. Dance with its kinesiology can express emotions, create complete images, even present sensations such as smells and tastes... Photography as well. Finally, expressiveness, technique and aesthetics are the common foundations of all creative arts.

-How do you write your songs?

Some songs start to be "set up" on a sequence of chords on the guitar, others along with the lyrics when I already have something specific to say. Others start from a melody on the piano, others are a whole piano piece that is orchestrated and then I struggle to find the lyrics, and others start from a rhythm (drums), then the bass, and finally the rest of the instruments-voices-lyrics are added.

-Do you create when you are in heat or when the emotions in you have calmed down?

Because I need calmness to write, I usually write with my emotions subdued, so that the aftertaste of a situation is included in the piece. Poem, however, was recorded in a highly depressed state, with the problems of post-traumatic shock from losing my best friend.

-What is your most representative song?

I don't know... I'm so multifaceted that no one aspect can override another. Although I rarely listen to my songs, Stay, Poem, Echoes, A Desperate Lie, are probably some of my favourites. And how different they are from each other...

-How does the inspiration come?

The hardest part is the inspiration... For me, I need calmness. But it can come from an image, from a feeling, from a melody that suddenly "pops up", from a meaningful conversation, from a philosophy... I can't write meaninglessly. Respecting myself and the ears of my listeners, there must be some utility in what I write. From expressing meaning and experience, to venting or even criticizing...

-Did the pandemic affect artists?

Of course. And very extremely. It's survival matter! We are the only legal taxpaying citizens who provided all the documentation proving legal work, we were exempted from compensation with a total work ban, without justification, for a year! This destroyed a lot of people. We had to take to the streets to claim our legal rights, which all other industries enjoyed. We were compensated for the months of December-May and now we are fighting for the Summer months... Still! All this was a huge psychological cost to us. I personally experienced it as a shock. The loss of my music was the worst blow I received after the aforementioned losses of my people! It costs both professionally and creatively. Add in that the fact that I broke a finger, I couldn't play the piano, couldn't work with my jewellery... How much happiness can one endure? Nevertheless, my absolute isolation, an inexpensive way of living, made me able to survive so far, to finish some training programs and to help some close people. Joy in that absolute darkness...

Another unpleasant fact was that a lot of people were paralysed by this situation, and there were many who showd aggressiveness, insecurity, suspiciousness. I was approached by people with the worst intentions, coming out of nowhere, while I never had such problems, despite the fact that I was always exposed to the dangers of night work... I excluded people with whom we could no longer understand each other, and discuss simply. There was a lot of fascism and a lot of self-centeredness displayed when it was simply that every scared person could protect themselves and their own... Everyone has the right to disagree with me, but that's my truth. The clubs and venues, on the other hand, did not support any of our efforts to assert our rights, neither did those who built clientele from our own PR and support, nor those who used cut our pay and insurance.

Most people who came to our live shows had no idea what was happening to us. They were texting me to find out when I was playing when there were measures and circumstances that didn't allow that. They used to find out from me that we survived a year on zero income. We experienced great disappointment.

-Was the attitude of the state similar?

The state's attitude was commensurate with its quality.... Let me not elaborate. And I am not referring to parties. I am referring to the whole Parliament.

-How do you judge the government's handling of compulsory vaccinations?

Extremely regimented! And I do not deny the existence of coronaviruses. They always existed. I went through it myself, experienced it as common flu. Nor do I belong to anti-vaccine movements. No one has the right to impose these experiments on anyone. As long as we are still a Democratic state... Most of the taxes we pay as citizens are charged to ensure our basic human rights. These are violated by such practices by the "puppets" of every state. Unacceptable. The Supreme Court of America recently officially stated that human rights no longer belong to anyone who received these injections. And the official explanation? That human rights belong to certain DNA, and these particular formulations interfered with that.

The official source is:

Let's not elaborate on the problems of the protection that vaccines ultimately fail to provide, the deadly side effects that are not announced in the pop media, and the heavy financial interests of the huge cartels and lobbies that instigate government decisions. Let everyone do their research and finally shut down the TV, which is illegally paid handsomely to advertise them...

-Do you believe in God?

Of course! We are all gods.

-Your personal refuge?

In its physical form, it doesn't exist yet. It lacks nature and silence. In the house where I live in I have created my little studio, where I spend most of my time, and it consists only of what is good for me. Musical instruments, little plants, Mr. Mioo, books, candles, simple things.

-Your greatest fear?

Separation, and the loss of loved ones. Separation, and the loss of my art.

-How do you function when you fall in love?

I live it! I'm an emotional and romantic character. I like a relationship to be based on total trust. Trust in judgment, in handling situations, in stability of character. Jealousy is for other people. I don't want to destroy the magic of polite communication and mutual understanding. I like shared activities, deepening conversations. Sharing experiences, philosophies, knowledge, creativity... Taking care of each other. I don't want negative tensions. So I am careful not to provoke them, and I leave when they exist. I respect personal time a lot. We all need it for our personal development, and to create.

I like the sense of security that a healthy relationship gives both people. Without criticising other people's choices, being straight, let me say, that I like the gender role. Femininity (without useless exaggerations) and masculinity (without useless exaggerations). I don't want to perpetuate this useless gender conflict any longer... As long as there is love, communication, and respect everything is managed.

-When was the last time you cried?

I cry oftenly.... One of the last times was a while ago, when we were in Mani with a close friend of mine, and we were discussing the fact that I have to be honest answering your questions, and testify what I experience, without policy and diplomacy.

-What kind of person is Thomais De Fois?

I am a simple person, in general, doing many activities... I don't like exaggerations. I like good aesthetics, good manners, arts that show talent and effort. Nature and the arts are what I feel closest to... I am quite a solitary person, and prefer quiet and healthy human relations. I get upset by crowds, noise, violence (physical and verbal), arguments without barriers or significant reason. I am disturbed by - generalising - gossip, fanaticism, semi-literacy, egocentrism, aggressive and authoritarian characters. We communicate creatively with people who are philosophical, and have a clear view of what has essential value in life and what we should reject. What not to pay attention to, and what to retreat to, or simply not speak up about. I feel terrified by people whose most important value is money. They are able to destroy interpersonal bonds because of this cult. I want people around me who like knowledge, who strive for their dreams, who have self-control and kindness. That's how I try to behave myself. I need creativity. I wouldn't survive locked in the "box" of a sterile daily life without changes, inspiration, creativity, kindness, calmness, effort, vision... Not anymore, at least. I am no longer such a strong character.

I have worked hard in my life to achieve some important goals, but I have also struggled with survival, working in various fields, for several years, in two - three jobs (day job, performing or bartending in the evenings, and teaching in the afternoons).

-Do you feel happy?

With what I've experienced in the last 4 years, I'd be lying if I said that it’s easy... But I appreciate what I have, my close people, my arts, Mr. Mioo and my creativity.

-If you could go back in time is there anything you would change?

Maybe I would have protected myself a little more from behaviours I tolerated, and I would have discovered the term self-esteem a little earlier. But our experiences shape our development, especially when we manage to overcome difficulties. Therefore I appreciate my internal journey, which has made me the person I am today. I can have a clear conscience and appreciate my journey through life so far, with all its difficulties.

-How do you imagine your last day on earth?

I don't think about it... I'm very familiar with the idea of death, it doesn't freak me out. I find it a perfectly natural thing. I prefer to focus and live in the present. That's what we have.

-Your dreams for the future?

Apart from the plans I have for my music and creative activities, under the current circumstances it is difficult to dream in general. But I hope that I will soon be able to leave Athens (ideally Greece again) because apart from music, I need direct contact with Nature. I will create the right conditions to be able to work on my arts in peace.

-What comes to your mind when you say the name Thomais De Fois?

Creation, Freedom, Respect.

-Thomais thank you for our communication.

Christos, I want to thank you warmly for your questions, and for the opportunity you gave me to share with you and your readers my position on important, sensitive, personal and social issues. I hope that we will motivate more people to dare to express their truth freely. Especially, in the times we live in, where censorship has reached epic proportions, and political correctness has become so distorted. Good luck to all of us!

Christos Iliopoulos (lyricist)

Failed student of Social Theology at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens. Failed student of Political Science and History at the Panteion University of Athens. Amateur radio producer and columnist. Collector of vinyls, comics and books. Lover of Indian cuisine and red wine. I have a special relationship with writing. When I write, I want the thought that starts with me to be completed by the reader...

The interview on Your e-articles (in GR):


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